Editorials News

CNN: From fake news to ‘hate news’?

The holy town of Varanasi is not a ‘city of the dead’. That honorific is reserved for the Islamic necropolis below the Mokattam Hills in southeastern Cairo, Egypt, and perhaps the coastal town of Dav

Published: 08th March 2017 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th March 2017 08:12 AM   |  A+A-

The holy town of Varanasi is not a ‘city of the dead’. That honorific is reserved for the  Islamic necropolis below the Mokattam Hills in southeastern Cairo, Egypt, and perhaps the coastal town of Davoa in the Philippines, following its then mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless war on drugs leading to thousands of extra-judicial killings.

Yet that is how a CNN documentary series titled Believer describes the Hindu holy city. Anchored by the apparently learned Reza Aslan—a bestselling author who has been less than truthful about his academic credentials—it has extensive shots of corpses cremated on the banks of the Ganga. 

Much of the footage is devoted to the Aghoris, a tiny sect who sometimes indulge in revolting practices at the city’s crematoria. Cannibals, screamed promotional clips, with a gross cut of a sadhu flinging urine. Outraged Hindus across the world reacted strongly. Here’s what the Hindu American Foundation, which saw a preview of the episode (which aired on CNN Mar. 5)  has to say:

‘The episode ... devotes copious footage to highlighting stereotypical and sensationalised presentations of Hinduism: Simplistic description of karma; conflations of caste/varna/jati; and the pollution in ... the Ganga.’’ 

But let’s not grudge CNN the right to do this. Let’s also forgive factual errors, like calling every ghat in the city a crematorium, or even white lies like being the ‘first’ to document this sect.

The question to ask, however, is the timing. At a time when most Americans don’t even know whether Shiva or Vishnu are associated with Hinduism, the question, raised by HAF, is: “When the knowledge deficit is so stark, and minority communities are facing a rise in hate incidents across the US—a Hindu American was killed and a Sikh American shot in likely hate crimes in the past week—why would Aslan and CNN sensationalise the Aghoris as a prime-time introduction to the faith of a billion Hindus, most of whom have never seen or met an Aghori?”

Stay up to date on all the latest Editorials news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

Latest